Annual Report 2017

8 Theme-focused R&D Facilities*

900 Researchers

14.4 Billion Yen (US$128 Million) Invested

  • Snapshot

    Tosoh’s R&D organization consists of eight facilities plus the Organo Corporation’s R&D Center. This structure is designed to strengthen and expand Tosoh’s core businesses and to enhance Tosoh’s ability to create new business lines at a time of rapid change in technology. Tosoh’s R&D efforts are aligned by technical fields and functions that accord with the Tosoh Group priorities of life sciences, energy and environmental conservation, and electronic materials.

    Tosoh’s Advanced Materials Research Laboratory and Life Sciences Research Laboratory are dedicated to R&D related to the Specialty Group. The Functional Polymers Research Laboratory and Polymers Materials Research Laboratory undertake R&D on behalf of Petrochemical Group products and technologies. Tosoh’s Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory, Organic Materials Research Laboratory, and Urethane Research Laboratory serve the Specialty Group and the Chlor-alkali Group. And Tosoh’s Technology Center conducts R&D into process development for all products. Organo Corporation’s R&D Center, meanwhile, conducts R&D for the Engineering Group.

    Tosoh also collaborates in joint research projects with external research facilities, at universities and at public research laboratories, to supplement the group’s R&D capabilities and accelerate Tosoh’s technology development. In addition, Tosoh invests in venture funds. Furthermore, Tosoh’s researchers are sent to the United States to improve Tosoh’s access to information about technology that the group hopes, in turn, will foster areas of promising growth.

    In fiscal 2017, Tosoh established a plan to strengthen its research organization and its development of products. The company will rebuild its research facility at the Yokkaichi Complex and consolidate the polymer products research that to date Tosoh conducts in three locations. It will also rebuild the research facility at its Nanyo Complex.

    Tosoh’s R&D team during the year under review consisted of some 900 people. By year’s end, Tosoh had invested ¥14.4 billion (US$128 million) in the R&D programs that they oversee.

  • R&D Organization
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  • R&D by Business Group

    Petrochemical Group

    Petrochemical Group R&D is dedicated to developing and improving polymers and related technologies. R&D into unique, high-value-added polyethylene products of superior functionality is ongoing. It includes developing and improving grades of laminate products, food packaging materials, and other related products. A particular focus is on developing medical applications for a high-purity, highly heat resistant grade of polyethylene. That effort has garnered Tosoh a strong reputation worldwide for transfusion bags that are transparent and resistant to heat.

    Using Tosoh’s new, proprietary catalyst technology, the Petrochemical Group has developed a world-class, ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Applications being developed for this product are wide ranging and include separators for lithium ion batteries, sliding parts, and more. The group is also developing polyphenylene sulfide to meet the demand for increasingly lightweight and complex automotive components. Its petroleum resins are enhancing the performance of tires as eco-tire modifiers. And its R&D into grades of chloroprene rubber (CR) for transmission belts has led to a Tosoh specialty: CR-based transmission belts whose durability is appreciated by customers.

    Tosoh is the world’s largest manufacturer of chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSM). And the Petrochemical Group is enhancing the company’s reputation among customers with new mixes that further the water and chemical resistance of Tosoh’s CSM and that expand the market for this already high-quality product. The group is likewise developing applications for Tosoh’s polyvinyl chloride paste in wallpaper, flooring materials, and elsewhere by listening to the market and responding to customers’ needs. In addition, it is moving ahead with developing polymer materials based on its unique concepts for their use as liquid crystal display materials, flexible display substrate materials, and other applications.

    Fiscal 2017 R&D expenditures for the Petrochemical Group were ¥1.9 billion.

    Chlor-alkali Group

    R&D for the Chlor-alkali Group focuses on technical innovations in Tosoh’s core vinyl isocyanate chain. The group is improving manufacturing processes for isocyanates, the raw material for polyurethane, and places a priority on developing formulations for polyurethane foam, elastomers, coatings, and other polyurethane-related products. Collaboration studies with other business fields are also important targets. Specifically, in order to comply with reduced weight and improve durability for automotive interior parts, environmentally friendly wholly MDI-based low-density seat cushions have been developed that are thinner, exhibit low volatile organic compounds (VOC), and are more robust than previously.

    Functional polyurethane R&D prioritizes the development of clear, low-viscosity hardeners for automotive clear top coats. It also emphasizes raw materials for chemical-resistant coatings for synthetic leather urethane resin and plastic paints. In addition, Tosoh’s inorganic materials R&D is pursuing continuous, energy-saving innovation in electrolytic technology for sodium hydroxide production.

    Fiscal 2017 R&D expenditures for the Chlor-alkali Group amounted to about ¥3.0 billion.

    Specialty Group

    Specialty Group R&D focuses on life sciences, energy and environmental conservation, electronic materials, and other areas. In its life sciences R&D, the group is developing next-generation analyzers and reagents for its immunoassay analyzer business. It is also developing products for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in connection with Tosoh’s genetic testing business.

    The group’s emphasis in life sciences R&D is on separation and purification media for the rapidly growing biopharmaceuticals market and on liquid chromatography columns for analysis. This supports Tosoh’s participation in Japan’s Manufacturing and Technology Association of Biologics and specifically its involvement in developing innovative processes for the purification and analysis of antibody drugs.

    The Specialty Group is making headway in its R&D of microfabrication technology for early cancer detection. It has also begun R&D into cell inspection tools for use in regenerative medicine. And it continues to develop high-translucency zirconia for dental applications and colored zirconia for decorative use in fashion products.

    Energy-related R&D work by the Specialty Group involves the development of materials for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, a product for which demand is anticipated to grow. It is also developing conductive polymers that contribute to large-capacity capacitors. In the interest of environmental conservation, the group continues to develop zeolites for use in automotive catalytic converters and high-performance zeolites for new applications. The group’s ongoing R&D into foam catalyst amine derivatives has led to Tosoh’s commercialization of its reactive amine catalyst RZETA, which is effective in reducing VOCs. The group also continues its R&D of heavy metal treatment agents for fly ash processing and wastewater treatment, and of engine oil additives that contribute to lower fuel consumption.

    The Specialty Group’s electronic materials R&D continues to make progress in developing advanced electron and hole transport materials for organic light-emitting diode displays. The group is in addition working on the next generation of sputtering targets for low-temperature, low-resistance thin films used in touch-panel displays. Tosoh began commercial production of low-resistance thin films in fiscal 2017.

    The Specialty Group, moreover, is responding to increasing demand for semiconductor miniaturization with organometallic compounds for advanced wiring and quartz components for next-generation semiconductor equipment. It is also engaged in the R&D of coating-type organic semiconductor materials, a key material in printed electronics.

    Fiscal 2017 Specialty Group R&D spending was ¥7.9 billion.

    Engineering Group

    Engineering Group R&D is furnished by the R&D Center of Tosoh subsidiary Organo Corporation. Organo’s R&D Center emphasizes basic technologies, new products, and product quality. It also promotes the sale and service of water treatment equipment, such as pure, ultrapure, and clean water producing equipment; large-scale wastewater treatment plants and standard water treatment equipment; water treatment chemicals; and food additives and materials for food processing. The R&D Center has commercialized a new pulsation-based high-speed coagulation basin; cabinet-type pure water manufacturing equipment; and an N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone recovery system.

    Fiscal 2017 Engineering Group R&D spending was ¥1.5 billion.

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